Philippines: The challenge of Covid in slum homes

“We have to laugh,” said a slum dweller whose face could not have been more serious, “when people tell us that family members with Covid should be isolated in their rooms. When you live in a slum, you all live in one room. It’s nonsensical for our situation.” Tragic and bitter humour, his words were haunting.

Growing up in the slums around Antipolo, Philippines, life is about crowded living quarters, with families squeezed into one-room homes where all home activities take place. Diseases spread quickly, and family tensions are hard to escape. For children from these families, a high-quality education can be the key to breaking the poverty cycle.

We’ve shipped several times to partners in Antipolo whose schools goes beyond the ABC’s. It comes to the whole family, with parent seminars on nutrition, parenting and life skills, and all children are taught that they’re valuable and worthy of a thriving future.

When Covid-19 hit, all schools had to close. For children in slum homes, without computers or even internet access, online learning is impossible. Our partners didn’t want to stop the children’s education, though, so they needed a plan. We, happily, could be part of it!

Wonderfully, we had been donated monitors by Bank of America in Hong Kong, and desktops by DHL. They were included in a shipment we sent late last year, and these very computers are now being used to produce video materials and lessons for children from the slums to study from home.

“All our teachers now have a desktop in their classrooms and staff are provided computers at home so communication is easier,” our partners told us.

The staff prepared packs for families to collect: worksheets, stationery, schoolwork, and a tablet for each child, loaded with videos and materials created on the teachers’ donated computers. “Since the poor families can’t afford internet, we load it onto a microSD that we provided and they watch it on a tablet we provided,” they told us.

In the past, we’ve loved helping these partners with such goods as school furniture, educational toys and aid for displaced people after the Taal Volcano erupted. Now, with Covid wreaking its havoc, we are thrilled that these computers are now being used by these creative, dedicated teachers to invest in the lives of children in need.

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